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Misawa visitors teach us how to make Mochi

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The sister city relationship with Misawa, Japan has provided the Wenatchee Valley with a wonderful international connection over the years. We're fortunate to have the Wenatchee Valley Misawa Sister City organization nurturing the relationship.

On Sunday, the latest group from Misawa spent the afternoon at the RiverWest Retirement Center in Wenatchee showing civic leaders how to make Mochi, a pounded rice cake that is used for auspicious occasions in Japan. Three Mochi specialists from Misawa were invited along on the visit to our valley to demonstrate the process. The tools they brought with them will remain here as a gift.

The process starts with sticky rice that is molded and placed in a wooden mortar bowl, called an usu. Misawa Mayor Kazumasa Taneichi took an early turn wielding the heavy mallet called a kine to smash the wad of sticky rice, while Mochi specialist Michiko Ogasawara flawlessly added water and remolded the rice between swings. Onlookers had a chance to swing the mallet and participate in the effort.

When the mochi reached the right consistency, the pounded rice cake was kneaded and cut into strips. Some were dipped in soy sauce and wrapped in seaweed while others were dipped in a green tea mixture.

Speaking through interpreter, Taneichi said this was his first trip to Wenatchee and that he was impressed by then crowds of people who cheered the Misawa delegation during the Apple Blossom Festival grand parade. He also made note of the flyovers by the Miss Veedol.

Tuesday night, Taneichi will become an honorary Applarian at a function at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center.

We're all indebted to the committee that works to keep our valley and Misawa connected.